What would you do if you had one perfect chance to be yourself?
Trapped on the Oregon coast with his unhappy, just-divorced father, 12-year-old Jeremy isn’t expecting much from his summer vacation. But everything changes when the boy of his dreams runs by, and Jeremy discovers it takes more than dreaming to reach out and say what’s in his heart.
Scholastic | July 19, 2022 | Grades 4-9
Cover Artist- Teo DuVall
Designer- Christopher Stengel
AUDIOBOOK narrated by the legendary Michael Crouch
American Library Association 2023 Rainbow Booklist Pick • Kirkus Best of 2022 Middle-Grade Pick • Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2022 • Texas Library Association 2023 Lone Star Reading List Selection • NCTE Children’s Literature Assembly 2023 Notable Award Book • Vermont Golden Dome Book Award Nominee 2023 • Horn Book 2023 Summer Reading List Selection • Brooklyn Public Library 2023 Pride Month Kids Pick • TODAY Show Read with Jenna Jr. 2023 Summer Reading List Selection
“A warm-hearted story that affirms and celebrates a tender relationship between two boys.” -HORN BOOK (starred review)
“Taylor’s involving narrative is gentle and luminous… Poignant, moving, and totally cormorant [beautiful].” -BOOKLIST
“Effectively conjures the emotional awkwardness of adolescence… Taylor writes with vulnerability the conflict of being in-between.” -PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY (starred review)
“Beautifully evokes the strange, liminal feelings of an early summer vacation that lasts forever and is over too quickly… A wonderful, tender story about changing relationships.” -KIRKUS (starred review)
“One of the most hopeful and sweet middle grades I have ever read about gay first crushes on the cusp of adolescence.” -Erica S., POWELL’S BOOKS (Powell’s Picks Featured Title)
“Beautifully and sensitively written, a genuine feel-good story (have hankies ready though).” -Holly Myers, ELLIOTT BAY BOOK COMPANY (Booknotes Featured Title)
“We need this middle grade book… about the beautiful experience of that first romantic connection. An all-around sweet, honest, and lovely story.” -Amanda MacGregor, SLJ TEEN LIBRARIAN TOOLBOX
“A mesmerizing, gentle story… filled with queer joy, perfect for fans of Ashley Herring Blake and Nicole Melleby.” –Mimi Koehler, THE NERD DAILY
“Thank you for writing this book. It brought me so much joy!” -Eleanor, 12
“Stole my heart right from the start!” –Sarah A., Middle school teacher
AUTHOR’S NOTE: While the details of this story are fiction, many are rooted in my own life. Like Jeremy, I fell in love for the first time at the age of twelve, an experience I remember vividly to this day. I also remember the moment immediately after, when I realized what falling in love with another boy might mean. At the time it scared me, and with no idea what else to do, I pushed the love aside and hid the things my heart was telling me. I would end up hiding them for another twelve years.
For LGBTQIA+ kids, the big feelings that often first arrive during the late-elementary years can come with extra complications. Moments that should be happy become snarled in worry or fear, and it can take a long time to get them untangled. Many kids do what I did, learning early to monitor, hide, and tamp down their emotions. Sadly, that often includes the really good ones—like love.
In THE LANGUAGE OF SEABIRDS, I wanted to write a story where the main character gets to celebrate big feelings instead of pushing them away. Fear and uncertainty still show up on the page because those things are part of our world, but in this story they don’t win.
I chose to hide when I was twelve because I was scared to do anything else. My hope is this story will provide an alternative, a blueprint for another choice. For any reader who might need one.